The Missouri Tigers enter Hilton Coliseum with an interim coach, a team struggling in every facet of the game, and no real chance at post-season play. At 11-14 and 4-10 in conference play the Tigers are occupying the eleventh place spot. However, if they were to trip up the Cyclones they would move into a tie for 10th.
The Missouri Tigers enter Hilton
Coliseum with an interim coach, a team struggling in every facet of the game,
and no real chance at post-season play. At 11-14 and 4-10 in conference play the
Tigers are occupying the eleventh place spot. However, if they were to trip up
the Cyclones they would move into a tie for 10th.
Mizzou has lost their last three
games and nine of their last ten. Obviously, it has been a difficult year for
those in Columbia. The Tigers last outing at Colorado was symbolic of
the entire season. After a Thomas Gardner three at the nine minute mark of the
first half, Missouri led 28-13. In that 11 minute stretch
to begin the game, Thomas Gardner had 16 points. It was as impressive of start
as I have seen from a player in the Big 12 this season. But, Gardner stopped hitting and Colorado proceeded to dismantle the Tigers,
going on a 25-4 run in the next 10 minutes. The Buffs ended up winning by 18.
with only 19.
So go the Tigers. When Gardner is hitting they
are a very competitive ball club. When he isn't, they look completely
out-matched. In the Tigers 25 games, Gardner has been the leading scorer in 19 of
them. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but they rely heavily on him to score.
He is averaging 19.6 points (2nd in the big 12); they only have one
more player averaging in double figures (Jimmy McKinney-12.3). The Tigers are
second to last in scoring in the conference, putting up only 66 points a game.
They don't exactly guard the basket well either, giving up 70 points, putting
them just ahead of Baylor (73) and Iowa State (74).
In the previous meeting in
January, the Cyclones contained Gardner to 15 points and held the Tigers to
under 40 percent shooting. In games the Clones have held opponents under 40
percent they are 6-1. Which is a telling stat for two reasons: 1. They win most
of the time when they play good defense. 2. They have only held opponents under
40 percent seven times in 27 games.
It is important for Iowa State to
get out to a good start and demoralize the Tigers like they did in Columbia. Several Cyclones
commented after the game that the Tigers, "quit playing." Mizzou is in a fragile
state of mind with little confidence, so if the Cyclones can get out and running
early on, it could turn into another win over Melvin Watkins's temporary club.
Watkins never won up at Hilton in his tenure at A&M.
But, with this Iowa State team, no game is a gimmee. If they
allow Gardner to
get off to a great start, anything can happen. Guards Jason Horton and Jimmy
McKinney can also score points in bunched if you aren't careful. Big man Kevin Young is a great post defender, but struggles to guard the perimeter. Marhsall
Brown is the opposite. He has good quickness for a man his size (6'7), but lacks
strength. Both are average on offense, but can't be left
I expect ISU to do the same thing
they did to Richard Roby and JamesOn Curry with Gardner. They will use their gimmicky match-up
zone with a chaser to locate him at all times. If McKinney and Horton beat them, they will deal
with it. Marsden, Hubalek and Taggart should be able to at least contain Young
(8 PPG) and Brown (9 PPG) in the low-post. They shouldn't need many double
is the A-1 guy on the scouting report and the Cyclones should never risk letting
him get free.
Let's hope for a big night from
John Neal and maybe Anthony Davis too, being that it is Senior night. The Clones
haven't lost their regular season home finale since 2002, when Omar Bynum and
Tyray Pearson celebrated their Senior Night.